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KARNAK DAYS                            119
girth, too, was incredible—averaging apiece thirty feet round. It was monstrous, this grandiose scale of architecture, this three hundred feet broad forest of colossal stone trees: it was Egyptian 1
And the Pharaoh who had created most of this Hall was Seti, he who had also created that temple at Abydos where I had felt such unutterable peace. Here one could not resist the impression of strength, of power, which was conveyed to one from the vanished epoch of the builders of this Hall. Seti had not lived, could not live, to finish his colossal creation, and so the great Rameses took up the incompleted task, turning the rocks of Assuan into enormous graven pillars, and poising thirty-ton decorated architraves upon their tops, without using cement or metal ties to fix them. The effect of all this was to turn the mind to a more extended outlook, to lift one out of the petty round of pitifully meagre activities, to inspire one with grand ambitions and lofty aspirations, and to provoke a yearning tor a far wider scope for one's energies. One wanted, in fine, to be like Ramese* himself and plan and build such mighty temples of prodigious height, then set around them ample model cities where men could live by the light of noble ideas and nobler ideals.
Once, this Hall of many prayers had been roofed and pave-mented; now it was open to the blue depths of the sky, while its floor was a mingled mass of earth, sand, weeds and stones. When that vast roof was in place, the interior of the Hall must have been dim indeed, for the only light would have been grudgingly given by stone-grated clerestory windows above the central avenue. But the mighty roof had fallen into a hundred pieces, of which little remained.
One did not want to criticize those ancient architects, yet the fact rose clear to the eye that the bulging strong pillars had been set far too close together. A better arrangement would have provided longer, less interrupted, views. But perhaps the ancients cared more for their symbolism and less for their perspectives.
Every pillar was lavishly carved and capped by heavy bud or by bell-shaped calyx. The beautifully rounded surfaces of the shafts were covered with coloured pictures and inscribed hieroglyphs, and the same decorations were on the architraves and the walls too. They were carven with the histories of Egypt's gods and kings, or painted in colours that remained undiminished. I recognised the painted figures and oblong